The Christian Westerman saga takes another strange turn as the offensive guard returned to the Bengals early Wednesday ahead of his 4 p.m. deadline.
The Bengals placed Westerman on the Exempt/Left Squad list Friday after the team faced Washington last week. That gave him five days to decide his NFL future. He didn’t make the trip with the team for the game, and rumors began to quickly circulate that he was considering retirement. Head coach Zac Taylor had stated that he had spoken with Westerman who was dealing with a personal issue, but wouldn’t give any further details beyond that.
Westerman now returns to Cincinnati after missing a preseason game and nearly a week of practice. It is unclear whether he will play tomorrow night against the Giants, but it is unlikely that without practicing for almost an entire week that the coaching staff would throw him out there in a game.
Westerman was in the middle of competing for the team’s left guard position that was left vacant by Clint Boling’s retirement. The competition includes John Jerry and Michael Jordan. Cincinnati drafted Westerman during the fifth round of the 2016 draft, and he has had trouble cracking the starting lineup.
Bengals coaches have been quick to assure fans that the competition for the starting offensive line is far from over as the team enters the third preseason game, which makes Westerman’s absence even stranger.
Westerman has one more year left on his rookie contract with the Bengals. He has routinely played pretty well during the preseason, so even if he doesn’t end up winning the starting spot with the Bengals, he could end up auditioning for a spot somewhere else following the 2019 season. There is always the chance the Bengals could find a trade partner before the season starts.
We will update this story as more details become available.